Thursday, July 16, 2015

486: The Bowling Pins Puzzle

Everyone older than ten knows that there is a way to play tic-tac-toe so that you can never lose. Any game that can be played to a draw unless someone makes a newbie's mistake, is boring once you know the secret.

Let's look at this one and see if you can find a strategy for it:

There are thirteen pins and the two players take turns bowling.When bowling, you can knock down any pin or two adjacent pins (but not two that are separated by a space) that you like.  The loser knocks over the last pin.

The gnome has bowled first, knocking down #2. How do you best play this game so that you are guaranteed to win?

If you go first, what is your best play?

source: Loyd's Encyclopedia, 1914.

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